Posts Tagged 'happiness'

Flips and flops….

Salthouse Docks

Yesterday was a ‘day’ of the unexpected which saw me unintentionally taking the scenic route on the ferry, walking a lot in Liverpool where I got lost several times (rescued by a map from the bus station bless them), drenched with rain often in the afternoon, handling some unfortunate personal comments from a soul who would have been better served staying silent, experiencing a ‘tumbleweed’ moment when my writing ‘bombed’ at writing group, discovering that the little craft shop I walked a long way to locate had closed and well, you get the drift….

Nestled in this little lot were three absolute gems and you know what, they are the moments that my heart carries forward.

I met a gentleman at the bus stop on the way to the ferry port. Edward was standing there ramrod straight, looking so smart in a suit and we smiled at each other. In seconds we established that his hearing aids were being mended so he was totally deaf and we both lived in the same street. Through a mixture of hand signals, smiles, gestures and lip reading we nattered while waiting for the bus and then on the bus journey. We shared his trials and tribulations on how he was handling the so called ‘care’ company who ran his sheltered housing, his war years and childhood and our bus driver, who was obviously having a bad day. He threatened to drive away and leave us standing there if we didn’t hurry up and board his bus, the daft duck. Now the last thing that Edward can do is move with speed, so we were both charming, stayed calm and remembered to gracefully thank him when we got off. Edward was a delight. We both got the giggles when the driver got ratty with another passenger and she threatened to belt him with her shopping trolley.

Unexpectedly, I got a message from my friend Sandra the night before to say that mutual friends of ours were visiting Liverpool and were berthed on their narrowboat in Salthouse Docks and wondered if I was free to visit. I found Sue and Ken late in the afternoon and we had a wonderful catch-up. We all met originally at a creative writers group held in Bedford Library over six years ago now. It was a lovely group and we had such fun every Saturday morning for six weeks. We carried on meeting up when the course ended and used to take it in turns to hold our gatherings in each others homes. There was a theme and funnily enough it wasn’t writing. Food and drink became a source of much pleasure and yes, we would talk about writing, but the sharing of each other’s daily happenings, histories, different foods and travels bonded us all together. I have memories of much laughter, helpless at times, and two special ones will always be tucked in my heart. The classic evening of blind tasting of homemade sloe drinks, which included vodka, white rum and gin. Lots of sips were required till we were able to decide which one we liked best and votes were cast. Slight memory loss at that stage of the game and bless Undala for being our driver that night. Then on a sunny, summery Saturday, Ken and Sue took us all out on their narrowboat and we travelled from Bedford marina through to Great Barford where we stopped for a picnic on the riverbank and then we came back again. I loved it, every single minute of it. I went to the back of the boat with Ken and he taught me how to steer and navigate the locks and told his wonderful stories about his RAF and sea rescue helicopter pilot days. He’s a natural teacher and raconteur and we laughingly caught the ribald comments coming from the front of the boat as our happy passengers charted our progress. Sparkly memories. Sue writes about their journeys on a delightful blog called ‘Boatwif’ and more loving memories were made yesterday.

Rather weary I arrived home last night as Lynn laughingly greeted me with ‘And what time do you call this?’. She shared the news that we have two actors coming to stay next week and we nattered about how we would flow with this. My response was ‘Ohhh do you think they will gift us some spare tickets, not that I would dream of asking, but it’s a thought isn’t it? Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat….happy days. I pottered up the stairs and made her giggle with my parting shot….’Lynn, that means we will have two men in the house and possible singing’.

Lights, sparkles and sunshine…

The Black Pearl The Black Pearl sculpture that children and adults can play on.

Lynn, her friends and I are going out tonight to an annual event in Liverpool called LightNight. The city holds it once a year and celebrates the arts and culture that fill it’s buildings. The libraries, galleries, creative centres and museums stay open till late with exhibitions, displays, street musicians, live performers and all sorts going on. What joys await and as soon as I finish work this afternoon I am heading over The Mersey, so we can all meet up as everyone finishes work. Happy days…

I set off for a walk this morning in the beautiful sunshine that greeted today and I fell into step with a lady walking down to the prom. We commented on the pots and plants filling the front yards and found that we have a lot in common. Mo and I carried on walking in the sunshine, down by The Mersey, and stopped and sat on a bench and nattered some more. Such joy in meeting a like minded soul and we exchanged details with a promise to meet up and have a coffee in the cafe nestled in the park very soon. I have not been there yet, so it is lovely to have engaging company to go with. Happy days…

As I walked back home I stopped to talk to a neighbour a few doors along. His front yard is like a cottage garden and we stood in the sunshine and talked about the old fashioned plants that he grows there. It reminded me of my Great Granny’s garden and it was bliss to stand and talk to him. Mike has seen so many changes around here and we had a lovely chat. Happy days…

I turned and there was the neighbour who walks his lovely dog every day as I watch them through my ‘working’ window. I got to meet Kaiser properly and he is a lovely German Shepherd, with a tender, gentle way about him. We hugged and I stood there stroking him in the sunshine. Happy days…

Just before I finally settled down to work today, Steve the builder bobbed in and dropped off some salvage that he thought Lynn may be interested in. A hilarious conversation followed with him trying to talk about the bits he had dropped off and me trying to pin him down to a date when he would come and do the work Lynn has requested. Good old Merseyside humour flowed and he suggested that he came back this evening to talk to Lynn. I commented that we were out on the town for ‘Lightnight’. He asked what that was and I explained. I even went so far as to tell him that the central library were holding a silent disco. ‘Get away with you…’ was his response. ‘It’s all true’ I replied. They are giving out headphones and you can silently go round the building, transformed with disco lights, doing your own ‘Boogie on down’. He was laughing so hard he couldn’t talk. Picture this: I stood in the doorway waving goodbye dancing and he boogied out to his van. Our laughter carried down the street. Happy days…

Rainbow colours……

Dad and I at the Railway

At lunch today Dad asked if I would like to come along with Mum and go to his model steam engine club’s ‘Track Day’. The first words out of my mouth were ‘My hair is filthy Dad, full of sawdust and paint, have you got time for me to have a quick shower?’ He nodded and I flew upstairs and was back down in ten, complete with wet hair, assuring them both that it would dry in the wind. It did!

Dad’s club track is in some old woods and as we drove up the climbing farm track to reach it we stepped back in time. The club’s track, workshop and clubhouse are nestled around old Oak and Horse Chestnut trees and beautiful lily filled ponds at the top of fields with sweeping views across the countryside. We all had a wonderful afternoon walking round, meeting and talking to club members, looking at beautiful model steam engines and locos, sharing mugs of tea (Bob ringing a bell to announce the urn was up to steam) as we all rode engines around the track. Picture a lot of beaming men playing with trains and you have a good idea of the happiness emanating out of those woods this afternoon.

The sun dappled through the leaves and I now have treasured heart memories of riding behind Dad as he drove us round on a loco and Mum took ‘action’ shots. It is years since we did this together and it brought back the steam sounding memories and the coal smells of my childhood.

Delicious cups of tea too, as only men in sheds can make….

Rainbow colours….Happy Father’s Day.

Magic moments as Em and I get a whole day to spend together….

Em and 4

Emily has turned 22 and we have been planning a day together since Christmas and on Monday this week we pulled it off.

I headed down the motorway to Leicester and we spent the day doing all the things we love together. Leicester is a thriving city and two universities give it a very young feel. They have ‘lanes’ going off the city centre, just like Brighton, and the little shops up there were tailor made for us girls. We ‘oohhed and aahhed’ over paintings, glasswork, pottery and crafty gifts. We sat in a wonderful deli having lunch and caught up with our news. It felt like we were in Italy. A local wool shop gave us new knitting ideas and projects and the vintage and secondhand furniture shops are a treasure trove of fun.

Em took me to a place called ‘Ocean Commotion’ and some of her childhood memories floated up while we looked in all the tanks. The marvelous colours of the little fish and the gentle burble of the air in the tanks took us to another world for a while. Em remembered when she was little and we used to take her to a garden centre with a special place full of fish tanks. She loved those trips. I remembered two goldfish her Dad won at a fun fair years ago. ‘Gordon and Herbet’ lived with us for quite a while in the big glass bowl I found in a junk shop.

Magic moments float up as I think back to Monday. As the sun set (somewhere high up above, because it tipped down with rain all day) there were little twinkly lights that came on outside the shops. One place was covered in them right up the front from the display window to the roof three stories above. In another there was a studio above a gallery that had us both feeling a longing to get up there and paint. We found a cosy Irish pub and sat and nattered while I sewed a popper onto Em’s coat that kept flapping in the wind. The butterfly umbrella my Mum gifted Em was in use all day, but the weather did nothing to dull our shine.

We had a great time in a restaurant Em had discovered for our dinner. It offered a world buffet and I needed her guidance on several occasions as I looked at food I did not recognise. The staff were great and caught our fun mood and we left there with many good wishes and paper hats on our heads.

As we said ‘au revoir’ to each other Em put a huge bag of clothes, that she no longer wears, in my hand and I have already worn a spangly top that was nestling in there. She also discovered a lovely skirt and scarf in a charity shop for the new work I am doing on platform. She is one canny and thoughtful shopper.

Em is in her final year at Uni and has a 10,000 word dissertation before her in the next few months. We shared memories of the degree choices she had before her just a few short years ago, because she chose the unexpected. She made the best choice for her and I applaud her courage in following her heart, as she is flying with it. She has carved a lovely life out for herself in Leicester and has got out and about exploring and found all sorts of places. Her new friendships there have brought blessings forth and she has discovered much about herself.

Life flows and things rarely go to plan, as our children grow up, and in my case a marriage ends. Emily is a priceless gift from my marriage and life’s gifts continue to flow in the magic moments we have together.

Em and I 1

Last week I was mainly driving tractors, diggers and trailers……love it!

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On the farm last week, the father and son builder team of John and Duncan, creating a huge 90ft barn in a far field, were a gift. Over coffee and cake breaks we perched on stacked timber and forged a friendship with much banter and laughter.

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One evening I looked across at the tractors dotted about and asked who owned them. Duncan said he did as he watched my face light up. For years, and I mean years, I have yearned to be back on a tractor. This is linked to heart memories from my days as a teenager in Africa, way before the days of health and safety, where we really pushed boundaries and had real adventures. Anyway I digress, I whispered to him (it was that important to me), could he take me out on a tractor….pretty please? We arranged it and end of play one early evening I stood welly booted and expectant in the field. Duncan went one better and handed me the keys with the words, ‘I think you can handle this yourself Jane’. He gave me instructions, perched in the cab with me and off we went. The sprung seat bounced and I drove around that field with a massive grin on my face. He had given me the gift of a dream.

A few days later John was unable to come to work on the barn, so I offered to help Duncan and he gave me instructions on how to drive the digger, with it’s many levers! The plan was to put Duncan in the digger bucket with a 16ft wooden beam and I would manoervre him through the steel shell and lift him up to various points to place, drill and then bolt each beam into place.

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The faith and trust he placed in me was immense as I have never driven one of these things and my fear level was high as I applied every atom of concentration to my task. Backwards and forwards we went and we managed to finish a whole section.

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My heart was in my mouth, but gradually I got the hang of it and the banter flowed through facial expressions. We had been using a system of hand signals above the racket of the engine and after a while I knew when to lower this trusting soul to bring him out for the next beam. I had a little fun with him in there. I would catch the flash of a smile as the last fixings went into a beam and I would grin at him from the cab and raise him an inch (steel beams above his head). His expression was priceless and I continued to grin and bring him slowly down again. He didn’t need to hand signal, his facial expression was eloquence enough in itself. He gave me another precious gift that day as my confidence came flooding back. I struggle when I think how long ago I lost it as I have been running on auto-pilot, with regular mental reminders of ‘I can do this’, for months now. His faith in me was uplifting and I must have slowed him down that day, but he gave no hint of it, just gentle encouragement and laughter.

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I left with love and much gratitude to head on up to Cheshire. John was back in the bucket, with Duncan driving the digger, and he looked down and said ‘Will you miss the place Jane?’, I replied ‘I’ll miss you two John, and the animals, I am so grateful for your friendship this week. It has been a special gift’. This roughty, toughty compact man in his special cap looked down and his eyes twinkled. Duncan and I hugged without words.

I am back at Mum and Dad’s and their moving plans are gathering pace. I awoke on my first morning to my Dad, with a familiar look on his face, saying ‘You’ve got a tow bar on your car haven’t you Nane?’, (that’s my old family name). That morning we shifted a huge heap of ordered debris (it’s my Dad after all), that used to be the old roof of Dad’s back workshop. ‘Thirty years ago I hand laminated that with a two inch brush’, said Dad. ”Really?’ I said as I struggled to split the external panels. Now for those of you in the know my Dad does nothing by halves and this is a trailer with a capital ‘T’ and I have never driven while pulling one before. After several trips we finished the job without incident, having befriended a kind young man at the tip who made the whole thing seamless at their end, and was very appreciative of the homemade cake from my Mum.

I think I have found my calling….all I need now is a hard hat.

Get down off the gas stove Jane, you’re too old to ride the range…mind you, it would help enormously if I could keep the blessed thing alight!

Forest views

I have landed in my next assignment and fallen under a spell.

This beautiful old deep stone walled home is way up a very high hill, looking down onto the valley below and across to the next hill. As I wound my way up here yesterday along a single track, a rare feeling came over me. I just knew that I was entering a different world and there were creative and loving souls living in the cottages dotted amoungst the trees. These hills are surrounded by an ancient forest and look out onto a wide river that is tidal.

I have come here for a week to care for a family’s brood whilst they take a well earned break abroad. We all got to spend some time together before they left at lunchtime today and loving bonds were formed very quickly. I am caring for a retired horse, a Shetland pony, hens, a timid rooster and a characterful fox terrier.

The forest is full of bluebells just coming out and to walk there with a dog that bounds joyously whilst I throw her sticks, is a very happy thing to do.

This little dog has many friends up here and on the way back from our walks she stops to greet her buddies at different gates. I have met the neighbours across these gates and invitations have been extended to stop for tea, cake and a natter whenever I feel the need. This hill is full of writers, musicians, artists, happy animals and love.

This morning I found myself grooming and mucking out my charges at 7am. The air is so clear and fresh up here, and there are trees left from an old orchard dotted across the fields and paddocks. It is an idyllic setting and I cannot think of a better way of starting the day. Mind you, two hours later I was more than ready for the cooked breakfast I was offered.

So far, I have managed to get to grips with some trails through the forest and finding my way back, the mucking out/grooming/feeding routine for my four legged friends, the hens needs and a few challenges.

The old kitchen range and I have yet to find a balance. I am sure there is a knack and so far I don’t have it, as she keeps going out. Thank goodness for the solar panels as this ensures me a much needed deep bath later in the luxury double ended hip bath…oh Yes! However, the challenge of making a hot drink still remains as I have a whistling kettle that does not recognise mains power.

Another interesting moment, was when my little furry companion took off as I gave the hens their lunchtime pellets. Mmmmmm, I suspected she may be making her way to the motorway to follow her family. We were in the paddock for goodness sake and it was supposed to be ‘escape’ proof. It wasn’t….I have nicknamed her ‘Houdini’ and I found her an hour later playing with her buddy, a Springer Spaniel, next door. This was just as I had started to ring round the neighbours, her family having left me a long list of phone numbers and contacts, so I take it that ‘Houdini’ has done this before.

I’m off outside now to water, feed, bed down, tidy and settle everyone before darkness falls. I am in my element, with a grin on my face a mile wide.

Letting go…means letting go of the hidden stuff as well…oooppsss

My thoughtful friend Manangua, talked about ‘letting go’ in a comment he left on my blog today and he prompted this post. Manangua’s blog is a fascinating mixture of fact and fiction, with an huge dollop of depth, springing from all his travels and experiences. Stop by and have a treat.

Back to ‘letting go’….I have been on a ‘letting go’ journey since the start of this year and I am learning all the time. Right now I am having a royal battle with fear.

The lovely little cottage I now call home is perfect for me. My gratitude is spilling out as my friends will testify and our conversations are liberally peppered with ‘thanks’. They have taken to smiling at me with glazed expressions, laced with love of course.

Decks clear, the perfect environment, all my faculties (really), love and support pouring in every day, new opportunities in abundance…and what do we find? A frightened girl, that’s what we find. Me, I am frightened.

I won’t lie or fudge it, ‘letting go’ takes courage mixed with trust and faith. In the ‘letting go’ if you go into freefall (which is probably the best way as you have really let go then) you get pushed to the limit. Continuing to hold trust and faith as everything starts to settle is not easy.

A friend popped in for a ‘cuppa’ on Saturday and asked if I had dedicated each room. I did not need explanation on the ‘how’ or any further discussion, as she had planted a seed and that was all I needed. Today, as I did my first routine clean in here, I spoke to each room. I talked about what I would be doing in the space and how much love, energy and happiness there was filling each room.

I am learning how to let go of fear….



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